We researchers seem to have that hound dog mentality. We pick up a trail and do not stop until will get what we are looking for. The available resources are plentiful so listen as others talk about how they come across their information.
Ancestry.com makes available to us all kinds of information about our relatives, like school year books, obituaries, residents over the years, etc. As I probed some information I had on my great-great grandfather on my father’s side, I ogled a document connected to him. His name was Beverly Towles, Sr. and the deceased relative his name was attached to was Adeline Towles Hardman born 1913 in West Virginia. She was my great grandmother’s sister. She died in 2011.
As I inspected the new found document, I came across, in the “survived by” section, two names of people who live in my state. Well, being the detective that I am, I followed up on a trusted lead. I was a member of PeopleFinders.com. I tried the woman’s name first; nothing. Put in the male’s name (Towles) and BINGO! The listing gave me his phone number, date of birth, address, people connected to him, the works.
I called him the same day I found the info; told him what I was doing and he asked if my paternal grandmother had sisters. I told him the names and he said, “You are my cousin.” He had been in my city for the past fifty years; I drove past his street at least once a week for the past twenty or so years!
The private investigator in me had some questions for my new lead so I asked if I could come by his house the following Saturday. As I looked at the evidence my senses told me that my Towles cousin is the family historian. He had photos of my great-great grandparents (Beverly and Mahala Towles of Goochland, Virginia), a binder full of obituaries; he called it his “dead book” and most important a document with my grandmother’s name as beneficiary of property in Virginia that was sold and the proceeds split among a few relatives.
To bring this case to a close I introduced my dad and his brother to their cousin. The sister in the obituary was at her brother's house too. We chatted for two hours or so. Before they would let us leave, they told us that they had cooked for us. Talk about food, it was a spread! Mind you they are both in their eighties. The feast led to another two hours of getting to know each other and meeting more relatives who stopped by.
Remember, as detectives we can leave no stone unturned.